The Sensations

For followers of Euro pro bike racing, this reference, to the “sensations” will be familiar. For the rest of you, it goes like this: a reporter asks a rider how he or she feels in the lead up to a big race. The rider says, “The sensations are good. My training has been strong.” Whether this amusing colloquialism is down to a unique phraseology or a poor translation, I love it, and I think about it a lot when I’m running or riding.

This morning, the sensations were odd.

My legs are rested. Between the recovery week at the end of Project 200 and the need to clarify my injury situation vis a vis Shoulder Season, I ended up taking nearly 2 full weeks off. My first run back was refreshingly fast, albeit short, and then this morning I did 5.5 miles with M out where Thoreau sat and contemplated his navel in the Concord woods.

How to describe it?

First of all, it’s remarkable that you can pile up so many miles over a period of thirty days and then, after a little R&R, feel so odd and unfamiliar out on the trail, like maybe you’ve never run before. Where do I put my feet? Is it just left-right-left-right still?

Second, I must be in good shape, because I can real off 5.5 miles at a fairly quick pace without trying too hard. If I’d needed to do 10 or 13, I could have made that happen. The tank is full and with a minor pace adjustment, the capacity is there.

Third, the weather is cooler now. August was a dumb time to push as hard as we did, when I performed an elaborate dance with dehydration and staggered home more than once a week. By comparison September’s temperatures feel more like accomplices than adversaries.

And yet, there is no flow in Dirtsville. If I think about the Phases of the Game, I guess I’m stuck between Phase One, novelty, and Phase Two, boredom. There are worse problems to have, since neither of those states of being are particularly hard to manage.

M kept talking about running the mile you’re in, a reference to an idea from Adharanand Finn and his The Way of the Runner blog. The basic premise is that you’ll enjoy your running more if you stay in the moment, rather than projecting forward (or backward) with the associated catastrophism that entails.

I tried, but my mind kept drifting away. I wrote sections of this piece. I planned tomorrow’s workout. I was almost everywhere except in those woods, even in the moment when we reached Fairhaven Bay and startled two enormous herons from their perches, broad wings beating the air audibly.

It’s ok. My head’s not straight yet. My motivation is unclear. But M said we just need to keep going to the woods and running for the sake of running, and it will straighten itself out in time. The sensations will come.